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The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach Hardcover – April 29, 2014
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“Magnificent! I could not put this book down. John McManus has expanded our knowledge of D-Day history by a considerable factor. It is a great read and will appeal to both devoted students of World War II as well as those with a more casual interest. Don't miss it!” —Joseph Balkoski, author of Omaha Beach and Utah Beach
“The Dead and Those About to Die is a gripping, first-hand account of the desperate battle for Omaha Beach on D-Day by the legendary 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. On the 70th anniversary of that momentous event, John C. McManus’s tale of courage under fire is a vivid reminder that freedom isn’t free and that when the chips are down stalwart American soldiers will always answer the call of duty.” —Carlo D’Este, author of Patton: A Genius For War and Warlord: A Life of Churchill at War, 1874-1945
“At first I thought I would draw the reader's attention to the simply magnificent narrative of one of the most famous and gripping events of modern military history, the nineteen hours epic of the First Division's landing, purgatory, and then near-exhausted triumph at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Then I thought I would draw the attention of my professional fellow-historians to the outstanding set of notes and oral histories, so neatly tucked away at the end, superb scholarship but worn so lightly. But finally I had to choose its ending, the chapter called ‘Meaning,’ on the thoughts, emotions, and later lives of this remarkable group of warriors. I closed this book with the deepest respect. ” —Paul Kennedy, New York Times bestselling author of Engineers of Victory and The Rise and Fall of Great Powers
“With painstaking research, military historian John C. McManus delves behind the broader canvas of Omaha Beach to capture the courage, grit, and sacrifice of the 1st Division’s D-Day landing. This is as real as it gets without having been there.” —Walter R. Borneman, national bestselling author of The Admirals, Winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award
“A skilled and highly talented author, John McManus has delivered another first-rate piece of scholarship. The Dead and Those About to Die is a tour de force of historical writing.” —Robert von Maier, Editor-in-Chief of Global War Studies
“In vivid and chilling detail, this brilliantly organized battle narrative immortalizes the 1st Division’s assault on Omaha Beach. Having unearthed eyewitness accounts of courage, carnage, fear and leadership never told before, McManus’s masterful work deserves a place alongside those of Cornelius Ryan, Stephen Ambrose and Rick Atkinson.” —David L. Roll, author of The Hopkins Touch
“John McManus’s brilliant chronicle of the Big Red One’s experience on Bloody Omaha captures the grit, pathos, and valor of the battle like no other book that I have read. This is gripping history—beautifully and masterfully told by one of America’s premier historians. ” —Patrick K. O’Donnell, national bestselling author of Dog Company
“McManus elicits moving details of courage and hardship… An exciting account from the personable point of view of the soldier.” —Kirkus
“[A] powerful book.” —St. Louis Post–Dispatch
“John C. McManus has created a portrait with words as Spielberg did with images in Saving Private Ryan. Of course, creating such a vivid picture with words is, for my money, far more difficult.” —Paul Reid, co–author of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
About the Author
John C. McManus, author of September Hope: The American Side of A Bridge Too Far, earned a PhD in American and Military History from the University of Tennessee, where he served as Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society and was a Normandy Scholar. As a leading authority on the Normandy invasion, he holds a Cantigny First Division Museum Fellowship. He is currently a full professor of U.S. Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he teaches a variety of courses, including one on World War II and another on the Modern American Combat Experience. He also serves as the official historian for the United States Army’s Seventh Infantry Regiment.
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Top Customer Reviews
The U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, "The Big Red One", had served with distinction in Africa and Sicily and thus was tabbed to spearhead the liberation of Europe on the most crucial invasion beach. While there was a prodigious amount of planning which went into the invasion, the actual execution left much to be desired. The pre-invasion bombardments by aerial and naval forces were almost completely useless and the German obstacles and defenses remained virtually untouched. Into this well-prepared meatgrinder came the 1st. Troops overloaded with too much equipment and placed in the wrong spots on the beach were thrust into a hell on earth which many did not survive.
Piecing together interviews, after-action reports and personal correspondence, John McManus has done a masterful job of chronicling the action as the 1st struggled to secure the Omaha beachhead. It's a tremendously compelling read, full of tragedy, triumph, bravery and ingenuity. I don't think I've ever said this before, but when I finished this book I actually felt like reading it again--IT'S THAT GOOD.
Buy this book. Read this book. You will not be disappointed.
As a book - this is an excellent read. I read it in a single sitting - skipped dinner to finish it. Further, unlike most military history book - this one has useful maps stuck at useful places throughout. They are tactical level maps, but include names and numbers to point out where the person quoted actually was. Yes, this includes many quotes from the German survivors. It provides good background - beginning with the relief of General Allen, and what General Huebner did to get the division ready for the invasion. It also discusses the German defenses in detail, and explores some of the myths about those defenses. For example, in reality there were only two 88's covering Omaha Beach - one of which was knocked out early in the battle. But to the dazed Americans, every German cannon was an "88."
As military history - this is a very useful book - since it fills in a large gap in the knowledge about Omaha Beach. I don't often recommend books without reservation - but I can this time.
Okay, I should be finished, but . . . he should have included photos of each of the obstacles on the beach.